Shawshank Redemption is one of my favorite movies. It is always a stop-down for me. I always end up watching it if I see it while flipping channels. One of my favorite quotes from the movie is Andy saying “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.” I love the phrase at the beginning: “It comes down to a simple choice”. Really, our life comes down to the choices we make. One of the most important choices we can make in life, is to chose to grow.
Choosing to grow is the first step in adopting a growth mindset. I first learned about the growth mindset from Train to be Clutch’s Leadership Reading Program. The first book on the list is Mindset: The New Psychology of success by Carol Dweck. It taught me that there are two mindsets that we choose to live life with, either a growth or a fixed. The growth mindset is a starting point for change, the fixed mindset stands in the way of development and change. If I was going to get anything from the other books, I had to be open to choosing growth.
Much of my life, I lived in the fixed mindset on many things. I believed “You are who you are” and said that to my wife many times. A fixed mindset assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are givens which we can’t really change. It wants success by avoiding failure at all costs. That means participating in events or classes, where you know you will be successful. I loved math and history because it was easy for me. I hated English, Literature, and writing because I wasn’t good at them. I didn’t give full effort in those classes, because I told myself: “What’s the point? I suck at them anyways.”
A growth mindset, on the other hand, thrives on challenges. It sees failure as not being stupid or unsuccessful, but as a way to learn and grow our existing abilities. If I would have had a growth mindset back in my writing class, I would have used those classes as a chance to improve, which would come in handy today. We all have things in our life that we struggle with doing. It could be math, grammar, spelling, cooking, taking tests, etc.. the list could go on and on. The growth mindset’s goal is to learn and improve in ALL areas of your life.
Even if society considers you the best at something, always look to get better. Grant Teaff, the former coach of the Baylor Bears, tells a story of coach Gordon Wood. Coach Wood was the nation’s winningest high school football coach at the time and had already won nine state football titles. Teaff went to watch film at his office the day after a Baylor game. Coach Wood was waiting for him on the couch in the team’s lounge. Wood saw Baylor do some things in the game the day before, he wanted to learn about them so he could help his team achieve even more success. He was at the end of his career, had nothing to prove to anyone, he just wanted to keep improving and gain even more knowledge.
There are many aspects to the growth mindset. The best way to learn about them all is by reading Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset. She also has a website at mindsetworks.com that I highly recommend you check out. No matter where you are in life, or what situation you are in, how old or how young, you have a choice everyday. A choice to use every failure, every setback as a chance to learn. A choice to improve yourself or just stay the same. A choice to get busy growing, or get busy dying.